World Cup: India 6 Pakistan 0

India has so far maintained an overwhelming record of absolute dominance against Pakistan. The Men in Blue have a 6-0 statistical sheet in the World Cup.

India's Virat Kohli crashes one to the fence in a 2015 World Cup group match against Pakistan in Adelaide. His 107 virtually took the match away from Pakistan.   -  REUTERS

Once upon a time, in a parallel universe, it was not often that India could vanquish Pakistan in the desert sands of Sharjah. But before millions of Indian fans slump into a collective depression, there is a strong counter-narrative. You cannot get a bigger deal than the World Cup, and in that, India has had absolute sway over its neighbour from across the Wagah.

India has so far maintained an overwhelming record of absolute dominance against Pakistan. The Men in Blue have a 6-0 statistical sheet from the World Cup and that is perhaps enough to smother all references to Sharjah!

Nostalgia needs to be tapped and a recap is essential…

First strike — 1992

The reversal of fortunes, albeit in different venues, and most importantly on the biggest stage of global cricket: the World Cup, commenced in Australia. India had a wretched outing, but the silver-lining was the 43-run victory against Pakistan in a league match in Sydney. Sachin Tendulkar scored an unbeaten 54 and the match had its weird drama when an angry Javed Miandad jumped up and down, mimicking India’s hyper wicketkeeper Kiran More! Incidentally, it was Pakistan that won the Cup that year.

The bruising blow — 1996

It was a World Cup quarterfinal that had the aura of a summit clash. Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium was agog, the decibel levels spread over to the adjacent Cubbon Park and M. G. Road, and India remained dominant.

India sealed the match by 39 runs, and the memories that linger are that of Ajay Jadeja, with his aggressive batting, dismantling Waqar Younis, Venkatesh Prasad’s angry send-off to Aamer Sohail and Navjot Sidhu’s 93.

But a bitter aftertaste was the crowd booing Miandad as he walked away after being run-out.

The act continues — 1999

In England, India and Pakistan squared up at Old Trafford. Until then suffering a wretched run with the bat, skipper Mohammad Azharuddin scored a 50; so did Rahul Dravid and India mustered 227. A meagre score at best, but it assumed gargantuan proportions as Prasad bagged five wickets and India won by 47 runs. India’s grip on Pakistan in the World Cup just stayed tight.

Tendulkar’s acme — 2003

If there is a reference point to Tendulkar’s belligerence, this would be it, though some recall his famous Desert Storm knock that laid low the Aussies in Sharjah. Pakistan rode on Saeed Anwar’s 101 to rack up 273 for seven. At the break, Tendulkar decided that he will determine the match’s outcome and took first strike instead of Virender Sehwag, who then watched the maestro lash Shoaib Akhtar into submission. An upper cut for six was perhaps the shot of the tournament. India won by four wickets and Tendulkar’s dismissal on 98 was the only false note.

Mohali heroics — 2011

A warm March night in Mohali had a mixed hue of sport and politics. The leaders of India and Pakistan were in attendance while the two nations tussled in a World Cup semi-final. Tendulkar’s 85, an innings of perseverance cashing in on dropped catches, helped the host finish with 260 for nine. Later, as the night stretched, Pakistan crumbled under pressure and M. S. Dhoni’s men kept their date with the final.

The semi-final was sealed with a 29-run triumph, truly the perfect springboard for India’s subsequent title victory in Mumbai.

Kohli’s imprint — 2015

Pakistan’s woes against India in a World Cup environment continued unabated. The contest in Adelaide was perhaps the most one-sided of all, as Virat Kohli’s 107 powered India to 300, and the pressure of the big total was enough to derail Pakistan. Mohammad Shami grabbed four wickets and Pakistan was bundled out for 224. A storied rivalry’s one-sided yarn continued. And did anyone say Sharjah?

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